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Supervisor: Who Is He, And What Does He Do

A supervisor is an observer. At least that’s how it can be translated from English.

And in theory, this is still not an observer, based on our Russian mentality, but a manager, a manager who, to one degree or another, manages the processes of selling products or the operations of laying out goods on the shelves of shops and supermarkets.

Supervisors are found in many areas, not only in sales but in sales, and they are most often found. The supervisor makes sure that the staff work conscientiously, and he controls the work of the entire workforce. Thus, he is responsible for the results of the work.

Usually, the supervisor is not given the power to hire and fire personnel.

But certain motivational functions and tasks, as a rule, are set for supervisors to influence the behavior of sellers and merchandisers, encourage their excellent and productive (practical) work, the desire to obtain the final result in the form of an increase in sales.

In our country, supervisors mainly work in trade, as mentioned above. In other areas, there are managers (sometimes project managers) who control the workforce and its activities, own the progress of projects and processes, manage the participation of employees in this, control their effectiveness and efficiency.

In general, supervisors bear the burden of responsibility for the practical work of subordinate personnel, for organizing this work in the most “correct,” most effective way.

What does a supervisor do?

The supervisor is obliged to periodically go to the trading facilities where sales take place, to the outlets where the company’s products are sold, and, as they say, on the spot, “in the fields” to check the activities of employees.

Often, the supervisor not only monitors the staff but also performs other functions, for example, establishing or removing restrictions on the shipment of products to specific customers due to their solvency or insolvency, as well as for different reasons.

The supervisor may prepare data to motivate salespeople who perform better than others effectively.

Some companies commission supervisors to collect money from customers to whom sales representatives transfer products on a deferred payment basis. Supervisors, as responsible managers, are sometimes more trusted when dealing with cash. At the very least, supervisors can collect money not from all outlets but from the most problematic ones, where a simple sales worker or sales representative cannot cope.

And so on, the list of additional supervisor features goes on and on. It is essential that this list does not become self-sufficient, and would completely distract supervisors from the main tasks of controlling the work of the company’s sales personnel – this is the essential part of their work, because no one except supervisors in the company knows the actual situation on the ground, “in the fields,” where the company’s products and services are sold.

Also Read: The 6 Hats Of An Effective Team

How to become a supervisor?

To become a supervisor, you need to have extensive labor law, business, psychology, and the production process.

The supervisor should evaluate the performance of employees using modern technology, including information technology.

The supervisor must be able to work with accounting and automated systems, with modern gadgets that allow not only to see “numbers” but also to observe the routes of movement of personnel “in the fields,” to understand these numerous numerical and “geographical” data, to take the most correct and precise solutions that work to increase sales efficiency.

In addition, the supervisor must ensure that the team has a favorable environment. If there are conflicts, he must resolve them, which is the work of a qualified HR manager.

Sales Representative Supervisor

He oversees the work of shops. The responsibilities of the supervisor of sales representatives include the implementation of the sales plan.

If necessary, he is engaged in adjusting the activities of sales (selling) personnel, especially in problematic outlets, and personally (temporarily until the problem is solved) work with such outlets if the work of sales personnel in them ceases to be effective.

Promoter Supervisor

Promoters are engaged in street advertising. They distribute flyers to passers-by.

Supervisors make sure that the promoters perform their work with high quality, transfer information, as they say, “from hand to hand” and only to passers-by and potential buyers interested in this, while uttering the necessary phrases prepared in advance for this kind of activity, etc.

Merchandiser Supervisor

Merchandisers are engaged in laying out goods on the shelves, and sales volumes will depend on the ability to layout goods. Therefore, the supervisor selects employees for this position and makes sure that they cope with their duties, know the range and matrix (list) of products sold, product prices, product display rules (what to put up, what to down, what is right in front of the buyer, what away from him, etc.).

Supervisors make sure that merchandisers request products from the warehouse of the outlet on time or pick up products from this warehouse themselves,

They ensure that merchandisers do not even allow a temporary “deficit” of one or another product from the matrix (list) of the goods sold. The shelves do not become empty, do not look half empty or ownerless, sloppy, abandoned, etc.


The supervisor must put himself on the same level as the entire work team because he only observes his work. This is not easy for the rest of the employees to perceive as a controller, checking, monitoring, and evaluating actions. And he passes these observations to his superiors.

Ultimately, a successful supervisor must create a good atmosphere in the team to feel confident.

And that each employee supervised by the supervisor works to increase sales, increase brand and brand awareness, attract customers, increase their loyalty and commitment, make customers repeat purchases, and similar actions that contribute to sales growth and the company’s long-term success on the market.

Also Read: What Actions Can We Take To Improve Teamwork?

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